In this week’s Seek Like a Local, Andrew Zipparo shares the best places in Chicago to find authentic Cantonese cuisine, biking from the North Shore to the South Side, and his go-to garden centers and plant shops in the city.
Explore like a Local with Andrew Zipparo
Andrew Zipparo is a marketing professional making his reacquainting himself to the U.S and his new home of Chicago.
Originally from New Jersey, Andrew left for college in Pennsylvania, then lived in China (Dalian, Beijing, Shanghai) for 10 years studying and working in marketing before eventually landing in Chicago (for now!).
What are your favorite neighborhood shops in Chicago for your “plant parenting” needs?
Even though it’s so far away, I’m always at Gethsemane for all my gardening and planting needs. Even when I just want something to do I’ll stop by to at least checkout flower bulbs and pottery. There are so many other plant shops popping up now, and places like The Plantier, Plant Salon and Chicago Plants are great for picking up a couple of rarer finds.
What do you love about the Chicago music scene?
I love anything electronic – from house to techno to 8bit to vaporwave to everrrrything else — I’d like to plug Chicago’s music venues like Berlin, Sound Bar, Spy Bar, and the like! This city has such a great underground music legacy and stages and venues need all the support from us they can get.
I know this is a tough question, but what is your favorite restaurant in Chicago?
It’s hard to pick a favorite food in Chicago, but it might have to be QXY Dumplings in Chinatown and Chengdu Aroma in Lincoln Park. They were the first two Chinese restaurants I ventured to after moving to Chicago from Shanghai and they both did a great job of numbing the homesickness I was feeling for my adopted home. Both are great for different reasons: QXY has the same authentic Northern Chinese steamed (steamed > pan-fried) dumplings I always munched on in Dalian (lo and behold, the owner of QXY is from Dalian!) and Chengdu Aroma has great DanDan noodles, Twice Cooked Pork, Sichuan Boiled Beef, and Zhong’s Dumplings. I don’t think we get enough exposure to non-Cantonese foods here so they’re great places to break beyond dim sum and spring rolls, and especially with a group of friends to share.
What are your favorite things to do outdoors in Chicago?
That’s easier to answer. I would bike – anywhere. This is the city for biking. Spring is for flower viewing routes along the neighborhood’s streets of Lincoln Park, Rogers Park, Hyde Park, Kenwood, etc., etc. In the early summer I’m usually riding the Green Bay trail up north to chase the firefly tunnels at night (they swarm like crazy there in late June!) and the bluffs and mansions along Sheridan Road in Winnetka, Highland Park, Fort Sheridan, etc. In fall when it’s cooler and less prone to flooding me away I head west to the Fox River and Des Plaines trails for some foliage.
Are there community organizations that you like to support in the city?
Seek Like A Local, and discover things to do, places to dine, and more of what the city of Chicago has to offer this week. Check out previous guides from influential Chicago locals here.